How Meg Ryan Perfected Her Fake Orgasm For When Harry Met Sally

27 years on, we'll still have what she's having.

Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally
Meg Ryan We'll have what she's having Image Columbia Pictures

Meg Ryan created movie history when she filmed that restaurant scene for When Harry Met Sally back in 1989, but it wasn’t all plain sailing during the shoot.

The classic sequence sees the actress tell Billy Crystal’s Harry that all women fake orgasms. As all movie fans will remember, she take drastic measures when he says he doesn’t believe her. Watch the scene below…

It’s one of the most famous scenes in rom-com history, but it nearly didn’t happen at all: this wasn’t in the original version of the script, and it was actually Meg Ryan who came up with the idea in the early stages of production.

Speaking in a 2013 with Today, Crystal said: “In the rehearsal, Meg said, ‘I should fake one. I should fake it in a public place,’ And I said, ‘Yeah, like a restaurant with a lot of people.’”

“And she said, ‘I’ll give a huge one.’ And I said, ‘And then there should be an older woman who says, “Waiter, I’ll have what she’s having.””

When it came to film the scene, Ryan was very nervous about acting it in front of so many extras, and it came down to director Rob Reiner to encourage her.

When Harry Met Sally
When Harry Met Sally Image Columbia Pictures

Crystal revealed in his autobiography that Reiner sat opposite her, banged his hangs against the table and acted out the orgasm in the over-the-top way he wanted. Ryan then put everything into the next few takes, and cinema history was made.

Interestingly, the woman that says the famous “I’ll have what she’s having line” was in fact the director Rob Reiner’s mother… who’d just watched her son act out an orgasm. Awkward.

Meg Ryan was perfect in the role, but wasn’t the first choice for the part of Sally. Susan Dey, Elizabeth Perkins, Elizabeth McGovern and Molly Ringwald all turned down the role, leaving Ryan to take the part and come up with the film’s most famous scene.

27 years on since the classic rom-com, we’re still having what she’s having.

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Loaded staff writer Harry Fletcher has covered news, sport and entertainment for several major websites across the UK. Follow him on Twitter at @Harry__Fletcher.